New York City, NY — Sara Mora has always been an activist. At only ten years old, she was engaged in her local church — later becoming a leader at her high school, where she sparked conversations about the importance of female role models.
But in 2017, when the Trump Administration decided to discontinue the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), she hit a breaking point. Mora decided “to come out publicly as undocumented” — a decision that would soon make her a renowned figure in the immigrant community.
Now 22, Mora is a prominent community organizer and social media influencer. Besides her work with Make the Road New Jersey, a political advocacy organization, she serves as co-president for the Women’s March Youth branch, overseeing hundreds of chapters across the United States. In 2017, she met with senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez to discuss the DACA recision.
Mora uses Twitter and Instagram to run social media campaigns on immigrant rights — the latter of which has cultivated a following of over 155,000. She appeared at the Teen Vogue Summit 2018, and has been featured on Telemundo, CNN and Elle Magazine.
YR Media’s James Wellemeyer talked with Mora to discuss her advocacy work, social media activism and the 2020 presidential race.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
James Wellemeyer: You’re an immigration rights activist. How did you get into this work? What motivates you to stay in the work?
Sara Mora: I got into this work because, being undocumented, I saw that the best way for me to fight for my family and community was by actively educating myself and fighting for dignity and respect. The work is nowhere near done.
JW: When you began your work as an activist, were you ever concerned about speaking out given your DACA status?
SM: Speaking out was always a risk. When you grow up feeling like you have to speak out for the sake and health of the people you love, you don’t think twice about taking risks.
JW: When you hear Trump make announcements on immigration policy now, what is your reaction? Are you still frustrated and upset, or is it a feeling of numbness?
SM: Trump’s announcements are like that sound of nails scratching the wall. It’s all levels of cringe — but he is also just one person, part of a larger system of oppression. I am numb, yet I am motivated to continue to fight a system that does not take breaks.
JW: You recently took a trip to the southern border. What did that trip mean to you, and what did you learn?
SM: This trip was re-energizing in the most traumatic way. It was a reminder that immigration reform is needed at all levels, because comprehensive immigration reform is needed for those entering the country and those within the system. I learned about the unity and power that exists near the border.
JW: A lot of your work is done through social media. How powerful is social media for your work?
SM: While it seems that a lot of my work is on social media, it isn’t. The community that I have online is only a small reflection of the work I’ve done as an organizer on the ground. Having this platform allows me to amplify resources, messages of hope and truly create a community of changemakers online.
JW: What campaigns are you working on now?
SM: I am launching a campaign/movement online and in real life, #WhoIsOur2020, which will be a national conversation on presidential candidates and on what we need for presidential candidates to pay close attention to and address.